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Starfield’s infectious optimism makes Bethesda’s heart beat strong

Starfield's story captured my imagination strongly, but the game's optimism and mighty beating heart takes the Bethesda RPG to great heights.

Starfield lore story

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Starfield as much as I have been. After completing the main Starfield missions and nearing the end of a New Game Plus run, one element of the behemoth Bethesda experience still positively permeates the atmosphere. It isn’t something you can wield or use, but you can definitely feel it. It is Starfield’s enormous heart.

Now, while you could look toward to the noble and valiant settings of The Elder Scrolls franchise to debate this, Starfield reaches for the stars wholeheartedly. Much of the game’s marketing material has hyped up using the superb arsenal of weapons, tinkering with ship customization, or aligning yourself with many of the Starfield factions. Yet, the real star is how optimism plays a crucial role in your journey.

The main quest isn’t about slaying an otherworldly dragon, or ending the threat of the Oblivion Gates. Starfield is about mankind’s wholesome spirit and need for collaboration, togetherness, and uplifting those we hold close around us. All for the greater good.

In a game where you can almost do anything you want, I find it refreshing that Bethesda isn’t primarily concerned with tackling an evil force. Sure, there are enemies to conquer like Spacers, Pirates, and other nefarious foes. It won’t be long before Twitch streamers perfect the art of a Starfield pacifist run. That prospect in itself shows how trusting Bethesda is in the player’s imagination and decision-making. Starfield’s combat can be satisfying in terms of gameplay, but there’s a comfort in knowing it can be a secondary option.

Starfield story lore

I won’t reveal any spoilers here as many of you begin your adventure, but what I will say is that the main quest flows with a profound lens, focusing on inspiring your fellow Constellation members. Gathering clues with my Starfield companion, Sarah Morgan, leads to unexpected conversations. There are often pleasantries about our journey so far, but other dialogue options land with an existential punch. Bethesda doesn’t shy away from tackling the moral quandaries of space exploration and peering into the unknown. It can feel wrong to an extent, as if trying to lift the veil on our place in the universe should be left untouched. Constellation is all about this thirst for knowledge, but ensuring that the results are for the betterment of everyone.

I often found myself during my first story playthrough contemplating my relationships with my team, concerned if I had made my character into worthy Constellation material. With every discovery and revelation along the way, even in the face of peril, I’m surrounded by a cast of supportive faces. That’s anchored by sublime performances from all the Starfield voice actors, with Emily O’Brien (Sarah Morgan), Elias Toufexis (Sam Coe), and Barry Wiggins (Barrett) shining especially bright.

It is bold that massively important confrontations can be avoided entirely. The old saying of ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ comes to mind in these moments. Even when you’re being an absolute bastard in Starfield, you may be punished by the law or frowned upon by characters you meet. Bethesda still instills a sense of compassion for humankind, offering an olive branch if you want still want to strive for the greater good, forgoing any previous selfish or rash decisions.

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Starfield’s positive tone aims to strive forward just like Constellation, but in some instances it can leave some characters verging on useless. Not everyone is as happy-go-lucky as Constellation, and that may apply to your character. It doesn’t necessarily cater to all other approaches of tackling the game. Some areas encourage more rogue behavior, like the corporate espionage found in Ryujin Industries questline. Some members of The Loadout in their respective saves want to embrace the life of a space mercenary, but bullets and blood aren’t exactly on Constellation’s agenda.

Caveats aside, I had hopes that Starfield would be worthy of the long wait. I never expected a story that would linger in my mind prominently after shutting down my Xbox, or manifesting into my dreams. Starfield’s story feels like a testament to the power of storytelling, and it is fitting that the game’s spellbinding mantra yields this infectious optimism from the beginning: “For all, into the Starfield.”

Still looking for more? While a good Starfield wiki can be a handy source of information, our new Starfield Database goes further, offering you daily news, searchable databanks, and even interactive tools like a New Atlantis map for exploration.